London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that cancelling the planned £175m (€227m) ‘Garden Bridge’ would cost UK taxpayers more money than building it, signalling he plans to proceed with the controversial project.
If the 366-meter (1,200-feet) pedestrian bridge is scrapped, the government and Transport for London would lose the £37.7m paid out, Mayor Khan said yesterday in his first appearance before the London Assembly since he was elected on May 5.
If it is built, tax receipts and loan repayments from the charitable trust building the bridge would whittle the public’s bill down to £18m, he said.
“From the point at which I became mayor, it was quite clear that it would cost Londoners more to cancel the garden bridge than it would to finish building it,” Mr Khan said.
“It is therefore in the financial interest of London’s taxpayers to complete the Garden Bridge,” he said.
The bridge, designed by Thomas Heatherwick, would connect Temple on the north side of the Thames to the South Bank.
It would include a public space and freely accessible garden as well as 270 trees, and remain open from 6am to midnight.
The assembly said last year it “serves no transport function”, criticising the £30m of funding pledged by TfL, the authority that runs the city’s streets, buses, and underground rail network.
Mr Khan said he has asked the trust to close the bridge for private fundraising events for fewer days and hours per year than previously planned.
He’s also requested it shares seeds from its plants with London’s parks.
He said the trust “has a credible ongoing business plan”, batting away the concerns of at least two assembly members that it will need to ask for more public funding.
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